A Teacher in a Flat World

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I remember reading Thomas Friedman’s book called The World is Flat years ago and thinking that our children are really going to grow up in a different world. His premise was that the world was now flat because of the Internet and that any one in any country could do a job, if that job could be done with a computer. Which if you are a student in school, you could be in a lot of trouble.

With that said, I didn’t really think about this Flat World idea until this past week...

You see, I woke up Tuesday morning with the heavy thought hanging over me that I needed to write a new script for my LEGO animation group that was starting in a few weeks. Although I like writing scripts, I just have too many things on my plate right now to deal with it. So then the thought came to me that I should outsource it.

That’s right, I wanted to outsource my script writing to someone else in this Flat World. So I went to oDesk.com, created an account and posted the job at about 10 PM Tuesday night. (it took less than 15 minutes to do all of this). I woke up Wednesday morning and I had14 applicants that wanted the job that I posted. Honestly, about two-thirds of the applicants were highly qualified for this job. We’re talking experience screenwriters who specialized in writing for children. The hourly rate ranged from $3 to $35 (Bangladesh to United  States respectively).

I picked someone from the Philippines and hired them to do the job. By the time I got home after school I had a beautifully written screenplay in my inbox and the total cost to me was $7.70

Suddenly, I started to panic for my two children. You see, I have a senior and a sophomore in high school right now, what does this mean to them? How do they compete? The Flat World has just hit home and I contributed to it!

The answer is 21st Century Skills. I have been beating this drum for years and now I see these skills are more important than ever. My children, your children, our students need to develop 21st Century Skills, because if they are doing something that can be done cheaper in another county -- it will be. 21st Century Skills cannot be outsourced.

- Brad Flickinger, Tech Teacher, Bethke Elementary